5 Fighters flying the flag outside of the UFC 🇬🇧

The mixed martial arts boom within the UK is very much a real thing, with different gyms popping up all over. There are currently more than 20 British fighters competing in the UFC. When it comes to MMA, there’s no question or room for debate that the UFC is the biggest and best show in town. The brand is known worldwide and arenas sell out within hours due to the UFC brand recognition alone not just who’s fighting on the card.

That being said there are still several other MMA promotions doing great things and giving fighters a platform to further their careers, with the likes of ONE, PFL, Cage Warriors & Bellator just to name a few. In a previous piece I enjoyed writing I discussed my top five picks within the UFC for the UKs next best hope at world championship glory, today I am going to shine a light on five fighters outside of the UFC that are doing us Brits proud and well on their way towards or have already achieved a world title. Not restricting myself to only prospects, just high-level British fighters that earn their living outside of the UFC.

Brendan Loughnane

Record: 27-4

Age: 33

Division: Featherweight

Brendan Loughnane is a Featherweight fighting for the PFL and is currently their Featherweight champion, with his most recent win coming against UFC veteran Marlon Moraes. Brendan was born and raised in Manchester, England but spends the majority of his fight camps in the well-known Tiger Muay Thai, Thailand. He made his professional debut in June of 2010 and had his first fight with the PFL in October of 2019, he is currently on a five-fight win streak and looks to be a real problem for anyone in the division with a well-rounded game and vicious calf kicks alongside it. Perhaps a few years ago better known as the guy Dana White passed upon for “not being enough of a killer” after a decision victory against Bill Algeo on the contender series. With twelve fights to his name since the contender series he has gone 11-1 in that time, picked up a Featherweight world title and a million-pound cheque for his troubles, you could argue he has been better off without the UFC‘s backing. With over thirty professional fights to his name, he shows no real signs of slowing down even with the PFL‘s gruelling tournament format schedule. Someone that refused to let setbacks get in his way he defied the odds and made something of himself,he is  definitely one that is representing us Brits well.

Brett Johns

Record: 19-3

Age: 31

Division: Bantamweight

Brett ‘The Pikey’ Johns is a Bantamweight fighter from Swansea, Wales that currently fights for Bellator. He trains at SMMA (Shore Mixed Martial Arts) and was the first Welshman to make the walk to the famous UFC octagon. He went 5-2 during his time with the promotion. He picked up a now-famous submission victory via calf slicer against Joe Soto and became the first Welshman to be ranked within the top 15 in any weight class in the UFC when he became the #13 ranked Bantamweight. He picked up world titles before his UFC run with Cage Warriors and Titan FC then entered the UFC with a record of 12-0, towards the end of his UFC run he passed up on the chance to resign and instead announced he would be heading to Bellator. Now three fights into his Bellator run he has a record of 2-1 within the promotion, with his most recent bout ending in a unanimous decision victory against Jordan Winski at Bellator 285 in Dublin, Ireland. Brett has only lost against very high-level fighters with his first loss as a professional coming against current UFC Bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and his other two coming against Pedro Munhoz and Danny Sabatello. A true pioneer of Welsh mixed martial arts he is a high-level fighter and definitely someone to keep an eye on in the Bellator bantamweight division, where he is currently ranked at #8. He is someone I will always route for.

Michael Venom Page

Record: 21-2

Age: 36

Division: Welterweight

More commonly known simply as MVP, a nickname I must admit is very fitting as he often feels like the most valuable player on any Bellator card that he features on. Michael Venom Page has a unique flashy kickboxing style that has drawn comparisons to the likes of Anderson Silva with his elusive footwork and precise striking that has caused multiple highlight-reel-worthy knockouts over the years. Born, raised and fighting out of London, England where he trains at the London Shootfighters gym, he turned professional in 2012 after a successful amateur kickboxing career. His striking base set him up nicely for a good run within mixed martial arts as his professional record of 21-2 clearly shows, although he does not have the strongest level of competition on that record due to the fact he never made the UFC jump. I always believed as I think most fans of the sport did that we would eventually see MVP grace the octagon, if he is happy with his current situation I say more power to him. Now 36 years old he has come up short on his previous attempt at a world title but I see him getting another shot, he is currently the #2 ranked Welterweight in Bellator so surely only one good win away from getting another crack at the title. A legend of British mixed martial arts and a highlight reel you have to check out.

Fabian Edwards

Record: 11-2

Age: 30

Division: Middleweight

Fabian Edwards is an English mixed martial artist that competes in the Bellator Middleweight division, where he is currently ranked #2. Pictured above with his older brother current UFC Welterweight champion Leon Edwards. Fabian began his professional career in 2017 after a successful amateur career where he amassed a perfect record of 9-0. He is currently on a 2 fight win streak with the first of them being a round one stoppage against former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, the most recent taking place in October of last year at Bellator 287 Milan, Italy ending via unanimous decision against Charlie Ward. Fabian was born into hard times in Kingston, Jamaica where he and his family shared a single bed, one room, and a wooden house with a tin roof. He grew up in a neighbourhood where gunshots were commonplace, luckily he and his family relocated to England, Birmingham to be exact where he and his brother found the Team Renegade gym where they both still fight out to this day. Another fighter on this list with an inspiring story. He has said that he believes he and his brother will both be holding world titles by the end of 2023, a win in his upcoming title eliminator against Gegard Mousasi next month at Bellator Paris will give him the chance to do so.

George Hardwick

Record: 12-1

Age: 26

Division: Lightweight

George Hardwick fights for Cage Warriors where he is currently their Lightweight champion, he is from the North of England, Middlesborough to be exactly where he trains and fights out of the Middlesborough Fight Academy. He is currently on an 8 fight win streak, the most recent of which came in the second defence of his Lightweight strap at Cage Warriors 152 in Manchester where he got a first-round stoppage victory against Yan Liasse. George is a well-rounded fighter and very capable grappler with multiple submission victories to his name, he has an older brother Harry Hardwick who also competes in Cage Warriors fighting in the Featherweight division with a record of 9-3-1. They have both trained at the previously mentioned Middlesborough Fight Academy since a young age where they both now also help coach sessions inspiring the future generation. George has a fun style always guaranteeing action with a stoppage victory in all six of his last fights, he’s one that is without question in my mind going to get the UFC call-up sooner rather than later. I say why not get behind him now and back one of our own before the hype truly takes off, and be a part of the journey from the early stages? The only prospect on this list well at least in the true sense of the word given his young age relative to the sport, I see great things in his future if he carries on performing as he has up to this point.

Join Our WhatsApp Group

Join our UFC WhatsApp fan group and discuss the latest UFC events and news